Examine into the life records of the self-made men and it will always be
found that indefatigable industry forms the basis of their success. True
there are other elements that enter in —perseverance of purpose and keen
discrimination — which enable one to recognize business opportunities, but
the foundation of all achievement is earnest, persistent labor. This fact
was recognized at the outset of his career by the worthy gentleman whose
name forms the caption of this article and he did not seek to gain any short
or wondrous method to the goal of prosperity. He began, however, to work
earnestly and diligently in order to advance himself in the business world,
at the same time doing what he could for the welfare of the community at
large, and as a result of his habits of industry, public spirit, courteous
demeanor and honorable career he enjoys the esteem and admiration of a host
of friends in Marion county, where he has long maintained his home and where
he is known as one of the representative citizens of the great state of
James F. Howell was born in Marion county, this state, March 25, 1840, and he has elected to spend his entire life on his native heath, believing that better opportunities were to be found at home than in other and distant fields of endeavor. He is the son of Jackson D. and Agnes (Gray) Howell. Grandfather Howell came to Illinois from Tennessee in 1825, settling in this county, having taken up land from the government, eighty acres at the time of his coming. He afterward bought one hundred and twenty acres more from the government, a part of which was timbered and a part was on the prairie. He cleared the timber land, this being the part he first purchased, clearing and farming the timbered land first. There were not any settlements on the prairie at that time, all the settlements there were then being in the timbered lands. The first Monday in May each year was wolf day. All the settlers gathered on that day and made a general drive, often taking large numbers of prairie wolves. There were also large numbers of deer at that time and our subject has helped kill as many as forty or fifty at one time. Grandfather Howell lived on the land he secured from the government during the rest of his life, being known as one of the strongest characters of those pioneer times. He reached the age of eighty-five years, his wife having been called to rest at the age of fifty. There were ten children in this family, all of whom lived to maturity and reared families of their own. The subject's grandfather was the fifth in order of birth. Two of these children lived to be over eighty years of age. The others lived to be about seventy.
The subject's father obtained what little education he could in the district schools of this county; however, there was but little opportunity for schooling at that time. He worked on his father's farm until after he reached maturity, then he pre-empted land, and lived on it, finally owning three hundred and sixty acres, mostly prairie land, on which he carried on general farming. He made his home on this land during the rest of his life, owning it at the time of his death. He died while on the road home from California. His remains were brought to Kinmundy and laid to rest. He was a man of fine personal traits and exercised much influence in the upbuilding of his community. There were ten children in this family, six of whom lived to maturity. Mr. Howell's first wife was called to her rest at the age of forty-one, and he was again married. To this union two children were born, one living, in 1908. The mother of the subject was born in Tennessee and was brought to Illinois by her parents when about six years old.
James F. Howell, our subject, was born about one and one-half miles from where he now lives. The home he owns and occupies is the fourth one in which he has lived since leaving his father's old home-stead. Our subject now owns twenty-six acres of the original purchase by his father from the government. He has always devoted his time to agricultural pursuits, owning at this writing one hundred and six acres of as good farming land as may be found in the county, being kept in a high state of productiveness, general farming being carried on in a manner that stamps the subject as one of the foremost farmers in this locality.
Mr. Howell was married in 1858 to Isabel J. Robb, who was born in the township where she has always lived, being a representative of a well known and highly respected people. Her people came from Tennessee, being among the earliest settlers in this county. Mrs. Howell was called to her reward February 3, 1907, at the age of sixty-six years, after a harmonious and beautiful Christian life.
The children born to this union are named in order of birth as follows: Arminda H., born June 18, 1859, is the wife of H. A. Brown, and the mother of eight children; Reufinia E., born February 24, 1861, is the wife of Benjamin Garrett and the mother of five children; Leander, born April 24, 1863, who became the father of four children, is deceased; Ida M. and Nettie, twins, were born September 23, 1866, the latter dying when four years old, the former becoming the wife of G. C. Warner; Charles H., born January 24, 1869, is married and has three children; Samuel E., born January 12, 1871, is married and has one child; Ellis M., born January 12, 1875, is married; Eva M., born November 14, 1877, became the wife of Lloyd Perrill and is the mother of two children; James E., born August 5, 1880, is married and has one child. He now lives in Roumania, in the employ of the Standard Oil Company.
The subject has been twice married, having been united in the bonds of wedlock with his second wife February 20, 1908, his last wife being Martha Anglin, a native of this county, her people having come from Tennessee in 1839. The maternal grandfather of the subject's wife came from Ireland and her father's people from Scotland, first settling in Alabama, later moving to Tennessee and then to Illinois, where they spent the remainder of their lives.
Minerva Howell, an aunt of the subject by marriage, was born in Tennessee in 1829. Her people were from old Virginia, who later came to Illinois when she was one year old, her father settling in Marion county, later moving to Williamson county, Illinois, where he died when about seventy years old. Mrs. Howell remarried. She became the mother of eleven children, four of whom lived to maturity, two of them living in 1908. Her husband died at the age of seventy-six. He was also born in Tennessee.
James F. Howell is a member of the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and in his political relations he affiliates with the Democratic party. The subject's first wife was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church.
In matters pertaining to the welfare of his township, county and state, Mr. Howell is deeply interested, and his efforts in behalf of the general progress have been far-reaching and beneficial. His name is indelibly associated with progress in the county of his birth, and among those in whose midst he has always lived he is held in the highest esteem by reason of an upright life and of fidelity to principles which in every land and clime command respect.
Extracted 08 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 80-82.